Description: signed V Gilbert and dated 1878 (lower left) oil on panel
Dimensions: measurements 18 1/8 by 24 in. alternate measurements 46 by 61 cm
Provenance: MacConnal-Mason, London
Notes: We would like to thank Noé Willer for kindly confirming the authenticity of this work which will be included in his forthcoming Victor Gabriel Gilbert catalogue raisonné.
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PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION, NEW YORK
Victor Gilbert received a second class medal at the Salon of 1880 for his powerful rendering of a corner of the fish market at Les Halles. Throughout the 1880s, Les Halles became the source of his primary subject matter with its colorful vendors, who often appeared to merge with their wares, ranging from glistening coiled eels to huge slabs of butchered beef slung over the shoulders of burly young men. In these remarkable images, one could almost smell the mixture of fish, meat, cheese and freshly baked breads, a sensory experience that immediately crowned Victor Gilbert as one of his generation's most celebrated Realist painters. Prior to his Les Halles paintings, Victor Gilbert also focused on French markets, but of the smaller neighborhood variety. In the present picture, which is characteristic of Gilbert's market scenes from the 1870s, he shows us a winter scene, identifiable by the leafless trees in the square and especially by the abundance of winter vegetables, such as the giant cabbages spread out on the ground and the mosaic of leeks and carrots on the table. The customers carefully choose the freshest hibernal produce, destined to be transformed into hearty winter soups, while the vendors appear to wait for the market to finish, while also looking forward to enjoying a bottle of red wine.